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A Midsummer Night's Dream

William Shakespeare
by

Mabel Yeo

on 20 October 2013

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Transcript of A Midsummer Night's Dream

William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night's Dream
William Shakespeare
Baptised on 26th April 1564

Died 23rd April 1616

His surviving works:
38 plays
154 sonnets
2 long narrative poems
A number of other poems
The Globe Theatre
The New London Globe Theatre
Destroyed by fire on 29 June 1613
Second Globe Theatre built on the same site by June 1614, closed in 1642
Built in 1599 by Shakespeare's playing company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men
Published: 1600

Original language: English

First performance: 1595
A Midsummer Night's Dream
In Southwark, beside the River Thames, opposite St. Paul's Cathedral.
Demolished by the Puritans in 1644
350 years later!
Midsummer Night
June 23rd
One of the oldest, most popular pagan festivals
Associated with love, fertility, madness, magic
Plot Summary
Theseus, Duke of Athens, is preparing for his marriage to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.

Hermia is ordered by father Egeus to marry Demetrius.

Hermia refuses because she is in love with Lysander.

Helena, once engaged to Demetrius, still loves him.

Under the law of Athens, Theseus gives Hermia four days (until the next new moon appears) to obey her father.
Plot Summary
Hermia and Lysander plan to elope, and agree to meet in the woods.

They tell Helena about their plan, who tells Demetrius.

Demetrius pursues Hermia, and Helena pursues Demetrius.

Meanwhile, a group of craftsmen (Quince, Bottom, Flute, Snout, Starveling, Snug) prepare a play - "Pyramus and Thisbe"
Plot Summary
Tried to replicate the first Globe Theatre
Oberon and Titania (King and Queen of the fairies) have quarrelled over an Indian boy.

Oberon tells Puck to fetch him "love-in-idleness", a flower whose juice makes people fall in love with the first creature they see after waking up.

Oberon orders Puck to place some love-juice on the eyelids of Demetrius in an attempt to reconcile him and Helena.
Plot Summary
Puck makes a mistake and puts the juice on the sleeping Lysander's eyes instead.

When Lysander is woken up by Helena, he falls in love with her, and rejects Hermia.

Oberon discovers Puck's mistake, and places the juice on Demetrius' eyes.

Demetrius wakes up and falls in love with Helena.
Oberon puts the juice on Titania's eyelids.

Titania wakes up to find Bottom wearing a donkey's head (put on by Puck) and falls in love with him.

Oberon finds them together, rebukes Titania for her folly, and asks for the Indian boy.

Titania obliges, and Oberon releases her from the spell.
Plot Summary
Plot Summary
Puck makes the four lovers fall asleep and applies a remedy to their eyes.

When they wake, they return to their former lovers.

Theseus, Egeus & co. appear, and the lovers are forgiven and married.

The craftsmen perform "Pyramus and Thisbe" to celebrate the weddings
Love and Marriage
Other than the Globe theatre, Shakespearean plays were also performed in the Blackfriars, built just beside the Globe Theatre
Shakespeare in the Globe and Elsewhere: Then
Shakespeare in the Globe and Elsewhere: Now
Shakespeare in the Globe and Elsewhere: Then
Shakespeare in the Globe and Elsewhere: Now
Balanced, ideal love: Theseus & Hippolyta
Strong primitive emotions tamed by reason
Subject to their own delusions and influences of the supernatural world
Driven by emotion and passion
Young romantic love: Hermia, Lysander, Helena, Demetrius
Love and Marriage
A patriarchal institution:
Theseus:
"To you your father should be as a god;
One that composed your beauties - yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure or disfigure it."
(Act One Scene 1)
Egeus:
"And she is mine, and all my right of her
I do estate unto Demetrius."
Fantasy vs Reality
Athens, Theseus' Court
Woods, fairies' realm
Setting up of binaries and subsequent blurring of boundaries portray the internal conflicts prevalent in the human psyche
The play in a play:
Pyramus and Thisbe
By Ovid, in Metamorphoses
Two forbidden lovers arrange to meet at Ninus' tomb.
When Pyramus arrives, he thinks Thisbe has been eaten, so he falls on his sword. Thisbe returns to find Pyramus dead, and kills herself with the sword.
Thisbe arrives first but is scared by a lioness with a mouth bloody from a recent kill. She flees and leaves her veil behind. The lioness smears her veil with blood.
The play in a play:
Pyramus and Thisbe
A tragedy performed with comedy and humour
Craftsmen's language: Prose, peppered with malapropisms
"I'll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny's tomb"
A comment on the excesses of the 4 lovers, and how that could have led to tragic consequences
Metatheatricality
Reminder to audience that we, too, are watching a play
(Act Three Scene 1)
Puck's address to the audience (Act Five Scene 1):
"If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended -
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear."
Royal Shakespeare
Company's production, 1970
Opened in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon
Moved to the Aldwych Theatre in London's West End in 1971
Directed by Peter Brook
Set: brilliantly-lit white box replaced the traditional Dream set design of forest and classical Athenian court.
Doubling of roles: Oberon & Theseus, Titania & Hippolyta
Actors: wore bright silks and performed circus skills such as plate-spinning and trapeze-swinging, inspired by Chinese acrobats.
Royal Shakespeare Company's
production in 1970
Reason, logic, rationality
Daylight
Waking world
Order
Chaos
Sleeping, dreaming
Darkness
Illusion, imagination
Royal Shakespeare
Company's production, 1970
Elizabethan Shakespeare
focused on high-born characters and national affairs as the subject of tragedy
episodic, packed with character and incident; they are loosely unified by a theme or character.
Strayed from classical models of theatre
e.g, Othello,
Richard II, Richrd III
Jacobean Shakespeare
Sombre elements are brought into focus
Started to capitalise on the Tragicomedies
Collaborated with John Feltcher who was the creator of Tragicomedies
e.g. The Two Noble Kinsmen, Troilus and Cressida
Full transcript